Strange New Worlds may have seriously taken Star Trek fans by storm, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and nor does the recently released full-length soundtrack album by composer Nami Melumad. The music itself retains flavours of the previous Star Treks and their themes (except maybe Enterprise — no pop ballads here!), while showcasing an original composition style that brings Strange New Worlds boldly into the modern frontier of the Trek universe.
At first glance, the impeccable cover art shows our crew headed by Captain Christopher Pike, ready to take on the universe and carry out the mission of the USS Enterprise. However, the titles of the tracks, in contrast, explore their own strange new world of puns and wordplay. They are both a nod to the subject of each piece and a piece of known pop culture.
Audio-wise, orchestral strings make up the backbone of the album, and there is a lot of use of heavy brass, while the orchestra’s wind section trickles through like the stars sparkling in a vast, unknown expanse. Large percussion adds some drama in certain tracks, where a softer, slower start builds a more dramatic climax with thicker musical textures.
As for particular selections, fans of our favourite Vulcan couple will enjoy the romantically influenced “Put a T’Pring On It” (with its subtle woodwind stylings over strings) or “T’Pring It On” — two musical pieces that could both be considered “love themes.” Undeniably, “Chris Crossed”, “Everyone Wants a Piece of the Pike”, and “The Pike Maneuver” are both bold and determined — with a quiet, firm, confident sound — while the first of these also musically sets up some of the conflict we know our captain faces within himself. “Pirates In the Sky” is a much more energetic and dare we say swashbuckling track, while “Gorn With the Wind” and “Gorn But Not Forgotten” combine drama, urgency, and a sense of loss at the hands of a ruthless adversary. “When the Hemmer Falls” is both dramatically darker, with lower brass over strings, and incorporates some sadness with a few sprinkled piano notes over steady strings, while coming to a bolder finish that nods back to some of the TNG-style fanfare, a worthy send off for a beloved character.
As stated earlier, the soundtrack does incorporate many variations of familiar Trek motifs, particularly those heard during the Original Series and TNG eras. In contrast to the steady and solemn themes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, this soundtrack includes many examples of the much more regal-sounding fanfare of the older shows. That’s not to say that Strange New Worlds simply copied and slightly altered a few elements (like how Star Trek: The Motion Picture‘s theme became the Next Generation theme), but rather Nami Melumad has taken just enough inspiration from the past, and following in the footsteps of many fellow great composers, created variations on familiar Trek motifs and melodies that are recognizable, yet new and unique.
Last but not least, the album features Jeff Russo’s work as the show’s opening and end themes. These combine many elements of The Original Series’ opening, such as the chimes and the fanfare that fans know, but with the majestic and bold style of the Motion Picture and Next Generation musical voicing.
Each track of this soundtrack, when paired with its moment in the franchise, helps to paint a much more evocative set of scenes, which can be relived through listening. So sit back, relax with your favourite Romulan ale or bloodwine vintage and let Strange New Worlds take your ears and imagination to the final frontier.
FINAL GRADE: A+